Welcome to Birdquest

COLOMBIA

Saturday 25th January - Sunday 16th February 2014

Pete Morris

The gorgeous Golden-bellied Starfrontlet (Pete Morris)

The gorgeous Golden-bellied Starfrontlet (Pete Morris)

Colombia is quite simply a fantastic country to go birding in! It’s perhaps not surprising when one considers it has a country list of nearly 1900, and around 80 endemics! It also has excellent infrastructure, friendly people, and a real endemic birding culture, with many excellent resident birders and ornithologists. Thankfully the conservation movement is relatively strong too, and as a result, many important areas for the great avian diversity are well protected. The main reasons for the degree of endemism in Colombia is the fact that the Andes split into three, isolating two major valleys and their associated endemics, coupled with the breathtaking and isolated Santa Marta Mountains, another endemic hotbed. Not surprisingly, our endemic-packed tour focused on these areas, amassing an impressive list of endemics and near endemics. Indeed, our 2014 Colombia tour was our most successful to date. We recorded around 720 species, comfortably our highest total on this route, and also recorded our highest number of endemics to date. The exact number is rather dependent on definitions (for example some species considered endemic by some have actually been recorded outside of Colombia) and taxonomy (for example some of the endemics have not been described yet!), but suffice to say we saw well in excess of 50, an excellent return by any standards. The weather was largely kind too, with not much rain, making for generally pleasant birding. With so many species and so many cracking sightings, it’s difficult to pick out just a few highlights. Our bird of the trip was the brilliant Chestnut-crested Cotinga which left us speechless after posing at point blank range. Another popular cotinga was Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, a lek of which we watched incredulously just a few metres away. Five antpittas in a morning was a brilliant highlight, dozens of hummingbirds (some at amazing hummingbird feeders) showed us colours that seemed barely feasible, and we had some superb sightings of rare owls including the yet-to-be-described Santa Marta, Colombian and White-throated Screech Owls. Yellow-eared Parrots put on a magnificent display, difficult rarities such as Masked Saltator and Rusty-faced Parrots posed for us and rare endemics such as Black-backed Thornbill and Tolima Dove gave unprecedented views.

The incredible Chestnut-crested Cotinga (Pete Morris)

The incredible Chestnut-crested Cotinga (Pete Morris)